Artist and gallery director Patrice DeLorenzo decides to go it alone
FARMINGTON — Over the course of her career, Patrice DeLorenzo essentially has served in every role possible for someone who has chosen to make a living in the visual arts field — with one notable exception.
Now, she's tackling that omission head on.
DeLorenzo, who will continue in her job as interim director of the Henderson Fine Arts Center Art Gallery on the San Juan College campus through the end of the month, has also managed commercial art galleries, served as a gallery director, worked as a curator and served as a juror for art exhibitions. She's an accomplished landscape artist, as her acrylic and pastel works demonstrates. And she has a long history in the Four Corners area, having moved here in 1998. She operated a family-owned consulting business in the energy industry from 2002 to 2014 and maintains a presence in that business today. She was the gallery director at SJC from 2002 to 2005, then returned to work there as a gallery assistant in 2012 and became the interim gallery director last year.
But never before has the Massachusetts native owned her own gallery.
That changed in March, when she opened the Patrice DeLorenzo Fine Art Gallery in Durango, Colo., on a part-time basis. DeLorenzo is leaving SJC at the end of this month to operate her new gallery full time, and she'll mark that move with a grand opening celebration at the gallery on Saturday, June 27.
That step may have seemed like a natural one for someone with her background. Even so, it was far from an easy decision for her.
"This is something that has been a lifelong dream of mine," DeLorenzo said. "An opportunity was presented, and it was like, 'It's now or never.'"
DeLorenzo said she had always lacked the confidence to open a place of her own, but some recent life changes convinced her to pursue her passion. She said the right intersection of circumstances made this the opportune time to give it a try, and she's very pleased with the home she's found for her gallery in a 640-square-foot space in Durango's Smiley Building, a former junior high school that has been converted into spaces for an architecture office, a Montessori school, a commercial kitchen, a dance studio, a martial arts dojo and other enterprises.
"I am the first retail gallery in the Smiley Building," DeLorenzo said.
She described the space she selected as having a Goldilocks quality — the right combination of size, light and feel — and she is especially pleased that it has a smaller area in back that she can use as a working studio or a classroom for workshops.
"It is what I really wanted — a gallery in front and a studio in back," she said.
DeLorenzo will feature her own work in the gallery along with that of a handful of other artists — Spencer Kirk-Jackson, who creates hand-blown glass; photographer J Jake; Bloomfield artist Ramon Valdez, who builds fine wooden boxes; and jewelers Nancy Conrad and Allison Farkas, both of Colorado. DeLorenzo knew Kirk-Jackson and Jake, both of the Boston area, throughout family connections, and she already had worked with Conrad and Valdez through her various positions at the SJC gallery. She said Farkas is well known in the Four Corners area for her colorful and beautiful work.
The various skills she's honed over the past several years as a visual arts professional and small business owner will be put the test in her new gallery. DeLorenzo particularly looks forward to one aspect of that challenge.
"I have a lot of expertise as a painter, as well as running galleries and designing shows, which I love to do," she said. "I think I can create a beautiful presentation that just ties everything together."
DeLorenzo said she already senses the difference between being an employee of a gallery and being the owner.
"I guess I shoulder the full responsibility of it being my place," she said. "So it's very exciting."
She acknowledged there is also some trepidation on her part, but her intuition tells her this was the right thing to do. DeLorenzo said she didn't want to be one of those people who sit around late in life counting their regrets and thinking about the chances they didn't take. She said a solo exhibition of her work at SJC in October 2013 may have been the event that triggered her decision to open the gallery.
"I think I was just ready," she said. "I think I had grown enough and developed enough artistically, and I was feeling confident I could do this, no matter what the outcome is. I don't mean that in a cocky way. I'm just trusting my gut."
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